Would you like to know how to relieve stress, boost your mood, improve your immune system and have a longer, healthier life? Well... it isn't another supplement, food, exercise routine or product you now need to add to your life. It's quality sleep.
Why is it so hard to get consistent high-quality sleep?
Our modern lifestyle of long work hours, late nights, eating on the go and habits of cheating sleep to get more done has left us feeling worn out. I know it's not realistic to assume that this is always our choice and many times there are unavoidable situations that can rob us of sweet slumber, but let's talk about what we can do to make good quality sleep a priority.
Benefits to Consider.
Restored body & mind - during deep sleep our body undergoes important functions like muscle growth, tissue repair, and hormone release from our day to day wear and tear.
Improved brain function - sleep is so important for memory, problem-solving, learning, and helping our brain to organize and store information.
Balanced mood - our emotions and moods are regulated during quality sleep and poor sleep is linked to irritability, mood swings, and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Hormone regulation- like appetite, stress and growth. When sleep is disrupted this leads to imbalances that affect our weight, stress and overall health.
Immune system support - quality sleep strengthens the immune system by enabling the production of immune cells and antibodies that protect against illness.
Long life & better health- can be attributed to adequate high-quality sleep.
Hormones Can Influence Sleep Patterns.
Cortisol Imbalance. Cortisol is a stress hormone and is responsible for regulating the body's response to stress and keeping the sleep-wake cycle working well. When we are chronically stressed our cortisol is always high which leads to trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Melatonin Disruption. Melatonin is the sleep hormone produced in response to darkness. It helps to regulate circadian rhythm which signals the body that it's time to sleep. When we stay up late exposing ourselves to the blue light emitted by electronic devices, this disrupts melatonin production, making it hard to fall asleep.
Leptin & Ghrelin Imbalance. These two hormones regulate appetite and hunger. When we are sleep deprived, this causes an imbalance in these hormones. Poor sleep results in decreased leptin which signals fullness and increased ghrelin stimulates hunger. Generally this leads to late-night cravings and poor eating habits that affect sleep quality and our health.
Insulin Resistance. Sleep is very important in regulating insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels. Chronic poor sleep leads to insulin resistance which impacts our ability to utilize glucose effectively. The risk of type 2 diabetes, weight gain, high cholesterol and fatty liver are increased along with more nighttime awakenings due to unstable blood sugar levels.
Thyroid Imbalance. Thyroid hormones play a role in regulating metabolism. An overactive or underactive thyroid affects our sleep.
Estrogen & Progesterone. When these hormones fluctuate especially preceding menstruation, post child-birth, during perimenopause and menopause, our sleep can become disrupted. Hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings linked to these hormonal changes often lead to sleep problems.
What Can I Do?
Get Outside. Natural light in the morning and late afternoon can help regulate your wake-sleep cycle making it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the right times.
Manage Light. Reduce exposure to bright lights in the evening. Use dimmed overhead lights, lamps with amber or red bulbs or use blue-light blocking glasses to help prevent interference with melatonin production.
Develop a Sleep Routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will regulate your body's internal clock so that you can enjoy better sleep.
Close the Kitchen. Eating close to bedtime disrupts sleep because your body is still digesting food. Along with increased digestion problems and blood sugar regulation, sleeping will be more difficult.
Limit Caffeine. Caffeine has stimulating effects and will interfere with sleep, so avoid it within 8-10 hours of bedtime.
Limit Alcohol. Alcohol can disrupt our sleep cycle, so for optimal sleep enjoy less and drink earlier in the day.
Try a Sleep App to Relax. Insomnia, sleep disturbances or anxiety about sleep will benefit from sleep techniques to help relax and improve the ability to fall asleep. Check out Calm, BetterSleep or Reveri.
Sleep-Suportive Supplements. Magnesium glycinate or l-threonate, inositol, theanine, and glycine can be helpful for improving sleep quality. Begin with one supplement to access if it is helping your sleep. Remember, supplement are just that - supplemental to what I've listed here. Try these other ideas first and then consider supplementing. Please reach out for my sleep support protocol to find brands and dosing.
I hope you will consider the importance of prioritizing your sleep. Making changes slowly is always the best idea and hopefully you will create some new habits for a sweeter dreams.
January is a great month for making your health a priority. I can help you find simple steps to improve your sleep, support balanced blood sugar levels, address climbing cholesterol and weight and a lot more!
You can find me here.
Thanks for reading,